It's a small but very busy business my dad owns. He comes in two days a week and a general manager is in charge for the rest of the week.


The general manager is an experienced saleswoman but quite short-tempered and impatient. However she never says a bad word to me -- she would shout at the two women who work here about the slightest mistakes but never at me -- even if I am carrying out a task with someone and should at least share 50% of the blame.


The atmosphere is always tense and the office dynamics would seem extremely weird to an outsider, including me who recently joined the family business from a much larger multinational corporation. Strangely, work gets done here and productivity is high. The girls (who I get on well with) also prefer me here because "the manager is less crazy" while I'm around.


As I'm expected to take over the business or at least take up a management role in the future, I'm quite worried about any staff leaving as it would have a major impact on the business.


Obviously I can't tell the manager that "please don't suck up to me just because I'm the boss's son." I know the obvious answer is to "talk to dad about it" or "be honest with the general manager" but I'm really trying to solve this on my own (and I don't believe being open and honest are always the best solution to office politics.)


Does anyone have similar experience with family businesses and could share ideas or suggestions?

mfculbert's picture


I have seen similar but only from the employee stand point.

I have a good feel for the Manager Tools procedures and think that the best option is feedback. Are you in a role yet where you can have meetings with the general manager? You have "genetic authority" but do you have any structural authority? 

If you are below the GM in the chain of command, is it possible for you to have quiet discussions so you see what she sees in your colleagues? It is not uncommon for me to miss insights that others have.

Good luck. You will probably need it.

mattpalmer's picture

 The fourth form of organizational power.  I'm going to use that.